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Nutrition

Get Informed - Nutrition

Healthy Eating Habits

A balanced diet is made up of food from the dairy, meat, vegetable, fruit, and grain groups. To learn more about each group and the foods associated with each group, go to:

ChooseMyPlate.gov

Healthy diets are low in fats, sugars, and salt.  To help you eat a variety of foods, choose foods from all the colors of the rainbow, such as apples, carrots, bananas, broccoli and blueberries. Unfortunately, vitamins cannot replace balanced meals and healthy snacks.

You should also exercise regularly to stay healthy.  Experts recommend 60 minutes of  moderate physical activity most days of the week.  If you participate in a team or individual sport in school, or after school,  this counts.

If you are not used to exercising, try to slowly increase the amount of physical activity that you do each day. Simple changes in your lifestyle, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, not using the remote control for the television, walking with friends and family, or helping with yard work, can increase some of your physical activity.

Not So Fun Facts

  • In 2012, greater than 33% of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.(1)
  • 13.7% of high school students are overweight. (2)
  • 13% of students did not eat for 24 or more hours; took diet pills, powders, or liquids; or vomited or took laxatives to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight (2)
  • Most students do not participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on any day.
Get Informed - Nutrition

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If I Am overweight or Underweight?

Many teenage girls think that they are overweight even when they are not. This is in part due to the fact that television shows and magazines are filled with abnormally thin women, which can give the wrong idea about what is a healthy body weight. The body mass index (BMI) calculation can be used to see if your weight is healthy. It is comparison of your weight (in pounds) to your height (in inches).

A BMI calculator is available at http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/Calculator.aspx

If you are at or above the 95th percentile, you are obese. If you are between the 85th percentile and the 94th percentile, you are overweight. In either case, you should talk with your parent(s) or guardian and your health care provider about how you can reach a healthy body weight safely.

So what if I am overweight or obese?

For children and adolescents, being overweight is generally due to a lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of the two, (with genetics and lifestyle also playing important roles in determining a child’s weight).

Being overweight can put you at risk for many health problems. Overweight teenagers are at higher risk of irregular menstrual periods, asthma, high blood pressure levels/heart disease, high cholesterol levels and/or diabetes.  The American Heart Association recommends exercising  at least 30 minutes a day for overweight persons. If you are overweight or obese, talk to you doctor about healthy ways to lose weight and exercise.

What is an Eating Disorder?

People with eating disorders feel extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. The most common eating disorders include bulimia and anorexia. As in the case that you just viewed, bulimics tend to binge (eats a large quantity of food ) and purge (overeat and vomit, take laxatives, or exercise too much). They may be of normal or low body weight. Persistent vomiting can cause damage to your heart and or your throat or other organs in your body.

Anorexia

Teenagers with anorexia nervosa do not eat enough to keep their bodies working normally. They have a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, due to an intense fear of gaining weight.   They are unable to keep their weight in a healthy range, which puts them at risk of serious medical complications, such as lack of menstrual periods, osteoporosis (weak bones) and even death, if they do not get treatment. Teenagers who have signs of anorexia nervosa have an image disorder and so they think they are fat even though their body weight is below normal.

Bulimia

Bulimia is a type of anorexia in which the individual cannot control the urge to overeat or binge.  After a binge, the bulimic either throws up or takes diuretics/laxatives.  These actions deprive the body of essential vitamins and minerals.  They may also exercise excessively to try to lose the calories they just ate.

What is a Healthy Diet/Exercise?

A balanced diet is made up of food from the dairy, meat, vegetable, fruit, and grain groups. To learn more about each group and the foods associated with each group, go to:

Choose my Plate.gov

Healthy diets are low in fats, sugars, and salt. To help you eat a variety of foods, choose foods from all the colors of the rainbow, such as apples, carrots, bananas, broccoli and blueberries. Unfortunately, vitamins cannot replace balanced meals and healthy snacks.

You should also exercise regularly to stay healthy. Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If you participate in a team or individual sport in school or after school this counts. If you are not used to exercising, try to slowly increase the amount of physical activity that you do each day. Simple changes in your lifestyle such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, not using the remote control for the television, walking with friends and family, or helping with yardwork can increase some of your physical activity.

How Can I Lose Weight Safely?

The best ways are to eat less AND exercise more. Talk to your health care provider about the best way for you to lose weight.  Read the labels on foods. Remember that because a product is low fat, does not always mean it has fewer calories.

It is best not to use diet pills or be fooled by fad diets. Although, you may lose weight at first, most girls gain the weight back when they stop the fad diet or the pills.

Tips to Avoid Abnormal Eating Habits

Get Informed - Nutrition
  • Learn all you can about anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders. Genuine awareness will help you avoid judgmental or mistaken attitudes about food, weight, body shape, and eating disorders.
  • Discourage the idea that a particular diet, weight, or body size will automatically lead to happiness and fulfillment.
  • Challenge the false belief that thinness and weight loss are great, while body fat and weight gain are horrible or indicate laziness, worthlessness, or immorality.
  • Avoid categorizing foods as “good/safe” vs. “bad/dangerous.” Remember, we all need to eat a balanced variety of foods.
  • Decide to avoid judging others and yourself on the basis of body weight or shape. Turn off the “voices in your head” that tell you that a person’s body weight says anything about their character, personality, or value as a person.
  • Become a critical viewer of the media and its messages about self-esteem and body image. Talk back to the television when you hear a comment or see an image that promotes thinness at all costs! Rip out (or better yet, write to the editor about ) advertisements or articles in your magazines that make you feel bad about your body shape or size!

Need Help? How Do I Know If I Have An Eating Disorder?

To help figure out if you or another person you know has an eating disorder, take the quiz at:

http://psychcentral.com/eatingquiz.htm

If you or someone you know has symptoms of an eating disorder, it is important to talk with a trusted adult and a health care provider and get help.

References

  1. CDC Obesity Facts, at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm, last accessed 9/15/14.
  2. 2013 National Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/yrbs/pdf/trends/us_obesity_trend_yrbs.pdf, Last accessed  9/15/14

 

 

Information Last updated 9/15/14

Disclaimer: All health information on Girlsmarts.org is for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a trusted adult/guardian or professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard parental or professional medical advice or delay in seeking these because of something you have read on the Girlsmarts.org website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call a trusted adult and your doctor or 911 immediately.